Power Marketing 2022: Driving It Home

With nearly 80% of consumer spending on home entertainment now going toward multiple SVOD subscriptions, studio marketers are working harder than ever to drive transactional sales of movies and shows, both physical and digital.

Their overarching goal is to remind consumers that it is still possible to buy (and rent) movies and shows individually, and not just as part of an all-you-can-watch monthly subscription plan. They also need to clearly demonstrate the benefits of ownership, including better quality, a much-wider selection of product, and the reassurance that once you buy something, it’s yours and unlikely to disappear one day, as so many of our favorite movies and shows have vanished without a trace from Netflix.

For the fourth year, Media Play News is honoring the top studio marketing campaigns of the past year (April 2021 through March 2022), and the teams that made them happen.

Thomas K. Arnold: Craig and the Camel May Be Gone, But Transactional Marketing Still Going Strong

The Power Campaigns

■ F9: The Fast Saga
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
UPHE released the $726 million global theatrical blockbuster F9 in home with a premium rental offering just five weeks after the film’s chart-topping run at the box office. Supported widely by digital retail partners and broad national advertising, the PVOD marketing campaign drove home messaging to consumers that the event film was coming straight from theaters into their homes for the first time ever.

As the title transitioned into the traditional home entertainment window, the campaign trained its focus on effectively differentiating from the PVOD release. Delivering a standout collectible offering, UPHE leaned heavily into the value of ownership with an all-new, highly anticipated director’s cut.
Leveraging the film’s massive star power and worldwide franchise appeal, UPHE focused on communicating the exceptional value proposition for this offering by fashioning a full-scale breakthrough marketing campaign designed to further entice and engage fans with two versions of the film and exclusive bonus content with even more spectacular action.

Elevated to the “must-own event of the year,” the campaign advanced with a far-reaching social announce push, supported in part by the film’s own megastars, Vin Diesel and Chris (Ludacris) Bridges, who shared custom content on their Instagram accounts, reaching a combined total of more than 92 million followers.

Publicity efforts were also expansive, anchored by F9 Fest, an immersive, multi-layered experience for domestic, international and multi-cultural press, influencers and fans. Marking a highly awaited return to in-person events since the start of the pandemic, the Fest drew attendees inside the world of F9 with such activities as a press interviews with director Justin Lin, cast members including Jordana Brewster, stunt coordinators, VFX leads and the costume designer; a rooftop zipline stunt experience inspired by the film; an F9 Museum featuring vehicles, costumes and props; an exclusive screening of F9: The Director’s Cut; multiple custom photo ops; and more.

These efforts were bolstered by impactful organic social media, which captured nearly 40 pieces of original content for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, as well as a targeted influencer program and specially hosted trivia nights on UPHE’s own All Access Rewards loyalty channel that were livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube across three separate nights. Cumulative reach across these efforts topped 30 million impressions.

Finally, the campaign was complemented by huge media support across network, cable and digital, resulting in a combined 770 million impressions, and was rounded out by top placements across both digital and physical retail.

■ Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Released in theaters right before Thanksgiving, the home entertainment release in January/February capitalized on the height of awareness and allowed families, who were still leery of going to the theater, to enjoy the film sooner at home.

The global marketing team positioned the ‘PG-13’-rated Ghostbusters: Afterlife as both the follow-up to the franchise that fans had been waiting for and a fun family movie. The team focused on a broad, dual-pronged campaign with focused hits.

Media support included high-profile sports and prime hits. The social media team leaned into both fan content — highlighting Easter eggs and Ghostbusters gadgets — and content targeted toward families, including a “movie night” influencer campaign.

Press opportunities were robust, as many members of the cast did broadcast and radio interviews in support of the home entertainment release. And two Twitter watch parties — planned to the digital release and the physical release, with parent bloggers and an editorial outlet — allowed fans and families alike to join in and watch the movie together.

The immediacy of the home entertainment release, along with this strong, dual-pronged campaign approach, allowed for a very successful result.

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■ The Hunger Games: The Ultimate Steelbook Collection
Lionsgate

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the blockbuster first film in the “Hunger Games” franchise, Lionsgate released a commemorative 4K + BD + Digital Steelbook featuring all four movies in collectible packaging, marketed as The Hunger Games: The Ultimate Steelbook Collection.

Best Buy’s ‘The Hunger Games’ 4K Steelbook Collection

The Lionsgate creative team worked with 10 female artists across the globe to create stunning illustrations of Katniss Everdeen and hand-drawn illustrations of iconic quotes from the franchise. The Steelbook collection announcement received positive feedback on social media and in the press.
Lionsgate followed the announcement with a 10-day organic social campaign highlighting the Steelbook artwork. Lionsgate utilized Instagram’s “Collab” feature to amplify reach and total engagement by cross-posting on the Lionsgate Brand accounts and the “Hunger Games” accounts.

Additionally, in celebration of Women’s History Month, Lionsgate’s production team created and released a 20-minute documentary, titled Women on Fire — The Artists of The Hunger Games: The Ultimate Steelbook Collection about the creation of the collection and the incredible female artists behind it: Flore Maquin, Ise Ananphada, Alice X. Zhang, Tula Lotay, Paige Reynolds, Aracely Muñoz, Gemma O’Brien, Lauren Hom, Meni Chatzipanagiotou and Gia Graham.

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■ The Godfather: 50th Anniversary
Paramount Home Entertainment

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s Academy Award-winning masterpiece The Godfather, Paramount and Coppola’s production company undertook a painstaking restoration of all three films in preparation for a limited theatrical run and a first-ever 4K Ultra HD release.

Paramount Home Entertainment launched a year-long campaign to celebrate the landmark anniversary and engage longtime fans while also reaching new generations through unique creative executions, strategic partnerships, multiple publicity events, targeted media and social activations.

The campaign kicked off with a new trailer launch followed by a gala street-naming ceremony on the Paramount lot for Francis Ford Coppola. The event included a red-carpet premiere with members of the cast in advance of the global theatrical re-release in the United States and 18 additional territories.

To generate additional publicity timed to the 4K Ultra HD release, Coppola was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a screening was held at the new Academy Museum. To entice fans, the product offering included a Limited Collector’s Edition with a hardcover coffee table book, portrait art prints, and extensive new and legacy bonus content.

Efforts culminated on the Sunday following street date in a special celebratory moment during the Academy Awards, which featured an introduction by Sean “Diddy” Combs and appearances by Coppola, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. In addition to massive publicity around each event, extensive coverage was secured worldwide in hundreds of top outlets through cast interviews, exclusive clip debuts, rare behind-the-scenes photos and more, ultimately generating more than half-a-billion impressions.

(L-R): Francis Ford Coppola, James Caan and Talia Shire discuss ‘The Godfather’ at a 50th anniversary screening at Paramount Studios Feb. 22, 2022.

Media support across broadcast, digital and print included a stand-out billboard in New York’s Times Square and spots promoting the home entertainment release appeared during Paramount Network’s airing of The Godfather Trilogy. Social media amplified all event coverage and created custom content across title and studio channels throughout the campaign to reach a wide array of audiences.

The studio will continue to celebrate the legacy of The Godfather with a dedicated podcast in the summer and a special exhibit at the Academy Museum in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, the global marketing efforts have resulted in a campaign befitting one of the greatest films in cinematic history.

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■ Spider-Man: No Way Home
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

As the entire world enthusiastically embraced the movie in theaters with more than $1.8 billion in box office revenue, the home entertainment campaign started out with a huge bang.

The marketing team launched a global announce on Feb. 23, aligning in key markets all over the world, with a re-creation of the famous “Pointing Spider-Men” meme, featuring Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Launched on social media platforms across Sony, Spider-Man, Marvel and Tom Holland’s profiles, the meme set the internet on fire, climbing up to be the No. 6 top-performing Instagram post of all time and getting unprecedented press pickup with more than 2.2 billion impressions.

As part of the announce, a sizzle reel highlighting more than 80 minutes of bonus features — including a gag reel, Easter eggs and more of the three Spideys — was released to press and social media channels, amassing more than 4 million views in just one day.

Following the announce, retailers kicked off a “countdown” campaign sale, featuring the entire franchise of “Spider-Man” movies, supported by custom merchandising, CRM, and social developed by the marketing team.

Going into the digital release, key to the marketing campaign was fresh and bespoke content. From a publicity perspective, clips from the bonus materials were strategically released. Two custom assets led by the content and digital marketing teams, “Making of the Meme” and “The Amazing Peter #3,” an insights-based answer to social chatter, generated over 4 million and 8 million views, respectively.

Behind the scenes of Spider-Man: No Way Home (photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

The media team assembled a massive campaign, activating support across premiere placements in sports, prime, network, cable, CTV and digital programming. They struck up partnerships with sports influencers George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kittle created a custom post for his 1.3 million followers on Instagram and Twitter, generating 307,000 IG infeed views and 44,000 Twitter views in one day. Morant filmed a custom 30-second promo, queuing significant social engagement and speculation from fans and generating more than 4 million views in one week.

Custom merchandising takeovers developed by the marketing team, along with prime placements, left no one unaware that the movie was available to own.

To sustain the marketing momentum in the digital release window, the global marketing team launched a watch party, with an introduction by Tom Holland and promoted by influencers receiving “movie night” kits, as well as social support from Marvel and promotional partners.

Prize packs were also given to a limited number of lucky participants.
With a focus on fresh and bespoke, insights-based content, this campaign generated record-shattering results.

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■ Smallville: The Complete Series
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

The 20th anniversary of the premiere of “Smallville” on CW was Oct. 16, 2021. To celebrate this milestone, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released Smallville: The Complete Series on Blu-ray Disc for the very first time just three days later, on Oct. 19. New packaging with 20th anniversary key art was designed for this boxed set, which includes 40 Blu-ray Discs containing all 218 episodes plus two additional DVDs featuring more than 28 hours of previously released bonus content.

The anniversary date fell on the same day as DC FanDome 2021.To capitalize on this fortuitous timing, a “surprise and delight” campaign was developed, timed to a cast reunion during the big DC virtual event. A new trailer kicked off the reunion, and moderator Tiffany Smith interviewed Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum while messages from series actors, including Kristin Kreuk, John Glover, Justin Hartley, James Marsters and many others, were played throughout the nine-minute segment. A longer 20-minute extended reunion video was released on the WBHE YouTube page at the conclusion of the DC FanDome segment, racking up more than 715,000 views. A media blast about the extended cut was sent to the press and talent touted it on their socials.

Welling, Rosenbaum and Kreuk also participated in interviews with top-tier and genre outlets including Yahoo!, EW.com, ET Online, TV Line, TV Insider, IGN, Collider and many more. Interviews were embargoed until after DC FanDome and generated more than 42 million impressions.

A two-week paid media flight began immediately following DC FanDome. Ads were posted on the WBHE Facebook and Instagram pages. At retail, the title was prioritized within the Amazon Always on non-branded ads surrounding the Blu-ray Disc release.

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■ Jungle Cruise
Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

Just one month after Jungle Cruise arrived in theaters — and simultaneously on Disney+ with Premier Access — the In-Home team made the case for ownership, and helped ensure a successful in-home release across multiple windows.

They began a campaign aimed at families with kids 14 and under, as well as multicultural opportunities with the Black and African-American, AAPI and LGBTQ+ audiences. Marketing strategies included leaning into the Disney brand and paying homage to the theme park ride that inspired the movie in order to engage with families and Disneyphiles.

With the main cast all having made multiple press appearance recently, the In-Home team, while still embracing the playful banter between stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, pivoted to other creative opportunities. One emphasized the thrilling elements that brought the film to life, including the animals in the Amazon Rainforest. Another differentiation of the in-home push was collectability messaging. Bonus clips and previously unseen footage of the cast were utilized for a series of press exclusives that stressed the must-own nature of the release. As a result, the title attained digital and physical sales well above target.

Campaign highlights included partnering with DisneyBounders — the fashion-forward way for fans to show their love for Disney. Instead of wearing full-on costumes as cosplayers do, DisneyBounders dress up in stylish, everyday outfits (known as DisneyBounds) that are inspired by a particular character. A special Jungle Cruise-themed content day was created at Disney World that provided the perfect platform for key influencers to generate content that created millions of impressions.

‘Jungle Cruise’-themed DisneyBounders at Disney World

A partnership with Trader Joe’s List, the popular social channel that is known for its Trader Joe’s shopping lists, reviews and recipes, also paid dividends. Trader Joe’s List went live on street date for a Jungle Cruise-themed haul at the store, and then created content inspired by the film, including multiple story slides, one giveaway post, and a video post on Instagram and YouTube, reaching the channel’s 1.7 million followers numerous times.

Finally, the October release date offered a few more opportunities. Walt Disney World celebrated its 50th anniversary that month and gift bags were created for the events, which included a digital code for Jungle Cruise. And, in celebration of Halloween, the In-Home team partnered with popular dog influencers and influencers with dogs to share Jungle Cruise-themed content tied to the holiday. To get the influencers in the spooky spirit, they were each sent a themed package, including a dog costume inspired by an animal found in the Amazon, a pumpkin hide-and-seek plush and Amazon-themed animal toys, along with boo-bites snacks and hats for the “paw-rents” to dress up, too. Each influencer also received a Jungle Cruise Boo-ray. The result was an additional 2.6 million estimated impressions.

These varied and inventive approaches not only saw overall sales targets exceeded, but also illustrated that a successful in-home release was possible across multiple windows even with a compressed timeline.

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■ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: 20th Anniversary
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

November 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the beloved Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first film in the tremendously successful film franchise featuring eight Harry Potter films.

The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment marketing team — as managers of the Wizarding World franchise for home entertainment and custodians of its ongoing film lifecycle — worked hand-in-hand with WB’s cross-functional teams to initiate a strategy to celebrate this momentous occasion, secured buy-in from key stakeholders, and supported a year-long, global, enterprise-wide effort.

WBHE commissioned and released Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Magical Movie Mode on digital and physical — a whole new way to experience the film with pop-up commentary from director Chris Columbus, trivia, fun facts, deleted scenes and much more.

WBHE also developed a full suite of creative assets that was shared across all teams, divisions and partners globally via turnkey toolkits that maintained a consistent look and feel. These assets included hero artwork that re-imagined the original theatrical one-sheet, an accompanying line look across all Wizarding World films including Fantastic Beasts, refreshed trailers and spots, a full year of social media assets, and a printable activity packet to accompany movie viewings across various platforms, whether fans chose to watch their own copies at home, stream on HBO Max, or tune into airings on TV.

The culmination of the campaign found WBHE hosting a global press and content day with franchise founding director Chris Columbus that serviced the needs of many partners. WBHE also held an influencer screening, which along with mailers resulted in more than 10 million potential impressions. WB Studio Tours Hollywood’s new Harry Potter exhibits served as the stunning backdrop for the press day and film screening.

Retailers such as Apple supported the campaign with storefront merchandising and on social media. Additionally, an exclusive Anniversary Collector’s Edition with special Hogwarts Express packaging was created for Amazon.

WBHE supported HBO Max strategically with the release of Magical Movie Mode on Nov. 4, timed to the actual anniversary of the original film’s theatrical release. HBO Max, in turn, created an anniversary destination on the platform that leveraged WBHE’s key arts. A selection of extra bonus content throughout the year also was made available to further engage viewers.

The Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team leveraged the 20th anniversary to create a campaign around 20 iconic moments of magic from the film. Wizarding World Digital developed that idea into an online hub for fans on the Wizarding World website. The franchise team also amplified many of the social assets created by WBHE, including two fun filters, for use worldwide.

WB Consumer Products created programs to eventize the moment at retail. Licensee products figured heavily in home entertainment influencer unboxings and in activity packets with recipes and more. Additionally, influencer videos with domino artist and YouTuber Hevesh5, who integrated Magical Movie Mode product into one of her Harry Potter masterpieces, logged 25 million views alone. And Themed Entertainment rolled out cafés in Harry Potter-crazed Japan, using WBHE’s creative assets.

WB’s Alternate Content team re-released the first film with hundreds of screenings worldwide, featuring home entertainment artwork on posters, and included a 10-minute preview of Magical Movie Mode that played after the main feature.

The 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone amounted to a year of truly unforgettable magic.

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■ Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

As the world began to come out from under the heavy weight of the pandemic, and theaters began to open wider, Sony Pictures launched Venom: Let There Be Carnage in theaters in October 2021. This set the stage for a ramped-up home entertainment campaign that focused on the strong franchise and ideal holiday timing.

The global marketing team deftly re-positioned the home entertainment launch to holiday audiences looking for a bit of popcorn entertainment at home over the Thanksgiving and winter holidays. Media and digital marketing created hyper-focused assets to reach all audiences 13 and up.

The social media team leaned heavily into engaging content on key platforms to reach young audiences with tongue-in-cheek campaigns that reflected the lighthearted interplay that audiences loved in the film. Tactics included conversational and seasonal GIFs, AR effects for Instagram and Facebook, with QR code on in-store displays, and custom content like the rom-com spoof which aimed at showcasing the action film as a seasonal rom-com.

Timed to the season, the social team created a 10-hour Venom-themed Yule log where audiences could pop on YouTube and enjoy a crackling fireplace alongside quips and dialogue between Venom and Eddie as they enjoyed hot chocolate. RVOD customers also enjoyed programming the Yule log into their barker channel for added fun and visibility.

A key pillar of the marketing campaign was to showcase more than an hour of behind-the-scenes footage and special features. Part of this was an exclusive deleted scene that grabbed more than 6 million views on YouTube alone.

From a publicity perspective, press and influencers continued to share their love of Venom. To blow out the release, publicity enlisted a popular rage room space in downtown Los Angeles where they themed out multiple rooms to Eddie Brock’s apartment. Upon arrival, all participating press and influencers got geared up with highly desired “Eddie B.” branded coveralls and went into their assigned room to take out their rage like Venom. One of the biggest hits was the creation of Mrs. Chen’s Mobile Convenience Store, where Peggy Lu (as Mrs. Chen) hung out for the entire day and conducted interviews, photo ops, and helped distribute iconic “Chen’s Market” tote bags. This day had a social reach of 69 million.

The media team created massive awareness by taking a data-driven approach that identified and ultimately converted key audiences. Tactics included leveraging first-party data, contextual targeting and affinity targeting. To spike urgency among young males and dads, Sony Pictures marketers activated across key sports events such as NFL Sunday football as well as NBA programming and further broadened out by blanketing networks such as NBC and ABC, and various cable networks.

All these unique ingredients brought the action and fun together and resulted in an immersive movie-watching experience.

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■ Yellowstone: Season 4
Paramount Home Entertainment

Based on the “Yellowstone” season three cliffhanger and the series’ explosive viewership growth, Paramount Home Entertainment was prepared with a season four home entertainment marketing campaign that spanned six months and established Yellowstone: Season 4 as the biggest TV season release since the final season of “Game of Thrones.”

PHE capitalized on the fan frenzy leading up to the November season premiere in multiple ways. Season four was made available for pre-order through digital retailers four weeks before the premiere. Supported by a digital marketing campaign that reached the series’ growing audience via Roku as well as social platforms Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Reddit, season four registered a stunning 100,000 season pass pre-orders in addition to increased sales of the first three seasons.

To promote the disc release, the home entertainment marketing team launched a highly giftable line look with custom decals for seasons one, two and three. The collectible catalog program achieved support equivalent to a theatrical new release across brick-and-mortar and online channels during the season four broadcast window and holiday season.

As the season came to a close in early January, focus shifted to the season four disc campaign. While the DVD and Blu-ray Disc were made available for pre-order after the season premiere, PHE synchronized its release date announcement to the season finale. Online marketing and social media efforts spiked disc pre-orders by teasing the release’s four hours of special features, including never-before-seen featurettes that deliver on “Yellowstone” fans’ desire to delve deeper into the compelling world created by Taylor Sheridan.

As the March 8 release date approached, the marketing campaign targeted both longtime fans of the franchise as well as new viewers just now engaging in the cultural conversation about the series. The media campaign delivered high-profile spots during sports and scripted series, and Paramount Global brought to bear the power of its portfolio with company-wide support from CBS, Paramount+, Paramount Network, CMT, Smithsonian and other networks.

Public relations efforts were supported by cast members Jefferson White (“Jimmy”) and Jen Landon (“Teeter”). An innovative influencer campaign with experienced creators in metal working, glassblowing and farrier work re-imagined the iconic Y brand while champion lassoers and cowboy cocktails created festive moments for the release. Organic social and influencer superfan posts drove awareness for more than 30 million followers and fans of the show.

Grassroots marketing across the country reached radio and podcast listeners, with a targeted focus on country and western. To further bolster word-of-mouth, Yellowstone: Season 4 was featured in pre-show advertising and print programs at world-renowned live music venues such as the Grand Old Opry and the Ryman Theater.

PHE further tapped into sports fans with multiple activations. In addition to grassroots marketing at rodeos and barrel races, a high-profile sports marketing event showcased the release during the NHL’s Nashville Predators games at Bridgestone Arena, the most-ticketed venue in the world.

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The Power Teams

Paramount Home Entertainment

The following worked on both The Godfather and “Yellowstone” campaigns:

  • Michele Bell, EVP, Worldwide Creative Services, oversees all of the division’s product packaging and digital design, in-store and online creative assets, and print, broadcast and online advertising.
  • Alanna Powers, SVP, Brand Marketing, spearheads the division’s global marketing strategies, product development, and management of all feature-length new releases, library titles and acquisitions.
  • Scott Klein, SVP, Brand Marketing, oversees worldwide transactional release strategies, marketing, and management of all television series distributed by Paramount Global.
  • Melinda Froelich, SVP, International Marketing, leads the international marketing teams in developing strategic plans for all titles and products by territory.
  • Hilarie Hildebrandt, SVP, Digital Sales, Global Accounts and Customer Marketing, oversees the strategic vision and execution of consumer-focused marketing programs with all global digital accounts.
  • Michele Rumain, VP, Media, oversees domestic home entertainment media planning for new-release, catalog, acquisitions and television product.
  • Michelle Willey, VP, Worldwide Creative Services, leads creative for new releases, catalog and television campaigns, including product packaging and digital design, in-store and online creative assets, and print, broadcast and online advertising.
  • Lin Park, Director, Global Digital Marketing, leads the division’s global digital and social marketing strategies, creating impactful campaigns for feature-length new releases, library titles, acquisitions and TV series.
  • Dashiell Winston, Senior Manager, Global Digital Marketing, leads the division’s global digital and social marketing strategies, creating impactful campaigns for feature-length new releases, library titles, acquisitions and TV series.

 

The PR team that worked on The Godfather and “Yellowstone” consisted of Kirsten Anderson, Pamela Grant, Alan Meier, Deborah Peters, Sharon Ramirez and Deborah Thompson.

The following people worked on The Godfather campaign:

  • Todd Sokolove, Director, Brand Marketing, oversees home entertainment product development and promotions for Paramount’s film library
  • Irene Bassett, Director, Brand Marketing, oversees home entertainment marketing activations for Paramount’s film library

 

The following people worked on the “Yellowstone” campaign”

  • Laura Kanamori, Executive Director, Brand Marketing, oversees physical home entertainment marketing for television series from all Viacom networks.
  • Jennifer O’Keefe, Director, Brand Marketing, also manages physical home entertainment marketing for television series from all Viacom networks.
  • Emily Guenther, Senior Manager, Brand Marketing, oversees TVOD home entertainment marketing for television series from Paramount Network, Comedy Central, BET, MTV, VH1, CMT, TV Land, Logo and Smithsonian.

 

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

The marketing team that worked on the Ghostbusters: Afterlife campaign consisted of Lexine Wong, Jennifer Anderson, Katie Ullrich, Abram Lugioyo, Patrick Serrano, Joe Burg, Rene Wilson, Antonio Gimenez-Palazon, Patrick Santiago, Christine Galloway, Kaitlyn Slover, Michael Nixon, Aaron Plourde, Jane Mohon, Jana Simmons, Doug Momii, April Cozart and Courtney Yeh.

The marketing team that worked on the Spider-Man: No Way Home campaign consisted of Lexine Wong, Jennifer Anderson, Katie Ullrich, Gregg Shack, Joe Burg, Derek Mihalik, April Florentino, Eric Kent, Amy Tesser-Marquez, Derek Schulte, Alex Andujar, Tara Rais, Jane Mohon, Jason Rumminger, Dylan Godshall, Christine Galloway, Michael Nixon, Diana Cheng, Jana Simmons, Doug Momii, April Cozart and
Courtney Yeh.

The marketing team that worked on the Venom: Let There Be Carnage campaign consisted of Lexine Wong, Jennifer Anderson, Cynthia Munoz, Abram Lugioyo, Patrick Serrano, Derek Mihalik, Stephanie Wu, Emily Ossip, Nico McManus, Robin Davids, Aaron Plourde, Jane Mohon, Diana Cheng, Rob Czechowicz, Terence Mulcahy, Jana Simmons, Doug Momii, April Cozart and Courtney Yeh.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

  • Hilary Hoffman, EVP, Global Marketing, oversees strategic marketing for Universal and its distributed lines worldwide across feature film new-release, library and TV properties. Her responsibilities encompass defining go-to-market strategies and overall approach for consumer engagement, including developing and leveraging new platforms and technologies as well as direct-to-consumer initiatives to drive profitable growth. She is responsible for creative, digital content, retail marketing, media, digital marketing, publicity and consumer insights.
  • Pam Blum, SVP, Global Marketing, oversees creative marketing services and the development of value-added content for the studio’s physical and digital releases on a worldwide basis. Her responsibilities also extend to include maximizing opportunities cross-divisionally within NBC Universal.
  • Lea Porteneuve, SVP, Global Publicity & Communications, oversees global business, technology and executive communications for UPHE as well as leads strategy and advancement of brand-defining publicity initiatives in support of the studio’s digital and physical in-home offerings around the world.
  • Denise Haro, SVP, Global Consumer Insights & Strategy, oversees business analytics, focusing on external market analytics, trend analysis, and long-term outlook. She also manages UPHE’s consumer insights and research. She is focused on aligning global commercial strategy around product, window, messaging, and innovation founded in business and consumer insights. Throughout her tenure, she has been influential in shaping company strategy.
  • Sandy Choi, SVP, Global Brand Marketing & North America Partnerships, manages worldwide marketing for Focus Features’ home entertainment new-release slate as well as all of UPHE’s North American third-party partner relationships. Additionally for all of UPHE’s distribution partners, she oversees the development and execution of all marketing campaigns across both physical and digital platforms and leads the cross-functional team responsible for the overall business.
  • Stephanie Lutjens, SVP, Global Brand Marketing, spearheads global strategic marketing, product development and management of all new-release titles from Universal Pictures, Illumination and DreamWorks Animation, in addition to the studio’s extensive catalog and television library. She also manages worldwide home entertainment promotions.
  • Joe Eibert, VP, Digital Marketing, oversees UPHE’s owned media marketing, including CRM, websites, influencers and promotions. Eibert also leads division-wide efforts on innovation and multi-cultural opportunities.
  • Nadia Haney, VP, Emerging Partnerships & Formats, is responsible for Universal’s entrée and advancement of new formats, alternative distribution partner marketing, and airline content licensing. Additionally, she serves as a primary liaison for cross-industry growth initiatives.
  • Ted Chi, SVP, Digital Marketing and Media Strategy, oversees the digital strategy and execution for UPHE’s in-home film releases. His remit includes paid, earned and owned media with an emphasis on data and analytics.

 

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Lionsgate

Lionsgate home entertainment marketing executives who worked on The Hunger Games: Ultimate Steelbook Collection campaign include Amelia Rogers, Erin Carter, Tiffany Olivares, Kathy Arendain and Aaron Gershman.

‘Doctor Strange 2’ Again Dominates North American Box Office

Disney/Marvel Studios’ theatrical hit, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, remained unchallenged for a third weekend, generating an estimated $31.6 million in North American ticket sales through May 22. The sequel starring Bennedict Cumberbatch in the title role saw its domestic tally top $342 million and $803 million globally.

The global tally now exceeds the theatrical results for MGM Studios’ James Bond actioner No Time to Die ($774 million) and Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC superhero The Batman ($768 million).

The ongoing strong box office results were enough to thwart Focus Features’ family period sequel Downton Abbey: A New Era, which generated a reported $16 million across more than 3,800 North American screens. The domestic opening was only about 50% of the 2019 Downton Abbey movie, but still topped $51 million worldwide.

In a media interview, Lisa Bunnell, president of domestic distribution at Focus Features, said the sequel could help bring back the older female moviegoer.

“The only way you are going to get older audience[s] to theaters is to offer them films they want to see,” Bunnell told Variety.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ box office reign is expected to end over the coming Memorial Day weekend when oft-delayed Tom Cruise action sequel Top Gun: Maverick hits big screens worldwide.

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Study: Phase 4 of Marvel Cinematic Universe Least Favorite

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the least-favorite MCU phase so far, according to critical scores identified in a new study.

The findings come from the Critic Ratings Study, which analyzed the film ratings across three popular review platforms — Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb. 

The study found that films and TV shows featured in Phase 4 — starting with “WandaVision” and running through to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — are proving the least popular with fans so far, when compared with Phase 3, Phase 2 and Phase 1.

In fact, when compared to Phase 3 of the MCU (starting with Captain America: Civil War and ending with Spider-Man: Far From Home), Phase 4 has reported a 22% drop in ratings. 

Still, Phase 4 includes the highest-rated MCU film so far, Spider-Man: No Way Home (8.8/10), but it’s Eternals that pulls the average score down considerably as the lowest-rated film in the MCU to date (5.7/10). 

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Of the TV shows included in Phase 4, the highest-rated was “WandaVision,” while fans weren’t so keen on “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” or “Hawkeye.”

MCU Phases, best to worst:

  1. Phase 3 (Captain America: Civil War to Spider-Man: Far From Home)
  2. Phase 2 (Iron Man 3 to Ant-Man)
  3. Phase 1 (Iron Man to Marvel’s The Avengers)
  4. Phase 4 (“WandaVision” to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)

 

Phase 3 was the highest-rated period of Marvel films, with each film featured reporting an impressive average critic score of 7.9/10. 

Highest-rated MCU films, by cumulative IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores:

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home (8.8/10)
  2. Avengers: Endgame (8.6/10)
  3. Iron Man (8.6/10)
  4. Avengers: Infinity War (8.5/10)
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy (8.5/10)

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Tops Disc Sales Charts for Fourth Week; ‘Turning Red’ Debuts at No. 2

Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home remained No. 1 on the NPD VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks combined DVD and Blu-ray Disc unit sales, and the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart the week ended May 7.

With its fourth-consecutive week atop the disc sales charts, Spider-Man: No Way Home is also the top disc seller for the year to date.

The collection of the three Marvel Cinematic Universe-set “Spider-Man” movies (2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home in addition to No Way Home) remained No. 4 on the Blu-ray Disc sales chart and No. 6 on the overall disc sales chart.

The week’s top newcomer at No. 2 on both charts was Disney’s Turning Red, the latest animated movie from Pixar. It sold about 44% as many copies in its first week as No Way Home did in its fourth. Turning Red bypassed theaters and was originally released via the Disney+ streaming service. It had 58% of its sales come from HD formats, with 35% regular Blu-ray and 23% 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Lionsgate’s sci-fi disaster movie Moonfall, the latest directorial effort from Roland Emmerich, fell to No. 3 on both charts. The Walmart-exclusive two-pack of Moonfall with the 2009 Nicolas Cage movie Knowing was No. 12 on the overall disc chart and No. 8 on the Blu-ray Disc chart. Combined sales of the standalone Moonfall and the two-pack did outpace Turning Red, meaning more people purchased a copy of the sci-fi movie during the week than the new Pixar effort. Turning Red did barely edge out the combined Moonfall total on the Blu-ray chart.

Another newcomer, Universal Pictures’ Blacklight, debuted at No. 4 on the overall disc sellers chart and No. 5 on the Blu-ray Disc chart. The film stars Liam Neeson as a troubled off-the-books agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy. It earned $9.6 million at the domestic box office and had 40% of its unit sales come from its Blu-ray Disc edition.

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Universal Pictures’ animated sequel Sing 2 dropped to No. 5 overall and No. 6 on the Blu-ray Disc chart.

Warner’s DC Showcase Collection: Constantine — House of Mystery, a collection of animated superhero short films, debuted at No. 11 overall and No. 7 on the Blu-ray Disc chart.

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The Media Play News rental chart for the week ended May 8 had Blacklight at No. 1, with Spider-Man: No Way Home staying No. 2.

The previous week’s top rental, Moonfall, slipped to No. 3. The Redbox-exclusive Black Site debuted at No. 4, while Sing 2 slid a spot to No. 5.

Top 20 Sellers for Week Ended 5-7-22
Top 20 Rentals for Week Ended 5-8-22
Top 20 Selling Blu-ray Discs for Week Ended 5-7-22
Top 20 Blu-ray Market Share for Week Ended 5-7-22
Sales Report for Week Ended 5-7-22
Digital Transactions Snapshot for Week Ended 5-9-22

 

Disney+ Adds 7.9 Million Q2 Subs, Reaches 138 Million Globally

The Walt Disney Co. May 11 said it added 7.9 million Disney+ subscribers in the second quarter (ended April 2). The streamer ended the period with almost 138 million subscribers worldwide, which includes 50.1 Hotstar subscribers in India.

The streamer, combined with ESPN+ and Hulu and Hulu + Live TV, brings Disney’s direct-to-consumer bundle to almost 206 million subs, up from 196.4 million during the previous-year period.

Specifically, Disney+ added 7.1 million North American subs, to bring the region’s total to 44.4 million, up from 37.3 million in the previous-year period. Internationally (excluding Hotstar), Disney+ added 12.1 million subs to bring its overseas base to 43.2 million, compared with 31.1 million a year ago.

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ESPN+ added 9 million subs to reach 22.8 million, up from 13.8 million last year. Hulu ended the quarter with 41.4 million subs, up from 32.8 million subs in the prior-year period. Hulu + Live TV, Disney’s online TV streaming platform, finished the quarter with 4.1 subs, up from 3.8 million subs last year.

“Our strong results in the second quarter … once again proved that we are in a league of our own,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement. “Quite simply, we believe Disney+ is one-of-a-kind streaming service.”

At the same time, direct-to-consumer business increases also result in increased costs. Segment revenue for the quarter increased 23% to $4.9 billion, and operating loss increased $600 million to $900 million. The increase in operating loss was due to higher losses at Disney+ and ESPN+ and lower operating income at Hulu.

Lower results at Disney+ reflected higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue. Higher subscription revenue was due to subscriber growth and increases in retail pricing. The increases in costs and subscribers reflected growth in existing markets and, to a lesser extent, expansion to new markets.

Lower results at ESPN+ were due to higher sports programming costs and a decrease in income from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pay-per-view events, partially offset by an increase in subscription revenue due to subscriber growth. Lower UFC pay-per-view income was due to a decrease in average buys per event.

The decrease at Hulu was due to higher programming and production, marketing and technology costs, partially offset by subscription revenue growth and higher advertising revenue. The increase in programming and production costs was primarily due to higher subscriber-based fees for programming the live-TV service due to the carriage of more networks, an increase in the number of subscribers and rate increases. Subscription revenue growth was due to an increase in subscribers and higher average rates, primarily due to increases in retail pricing. The increase in advertising revenue was due to higher rates and impressions.

Turning Red

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Disney;
Animated;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic material, suggestive content and language.
Voices of Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen.

Pixar’s Turning Red uses a heavy anime influence to tell a classic coming-of-age story.

Set in Toronto in the early 2000s, the film plays a bit like an Asian version of Teen Wolf (the 1980s comedy, not the 2010s dark fantasy show it inspired), as 13-year-old Mei (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) learns the women in her family inherit the ability to transform into a giant red panda when they become teenagers. Mei isn’t sure how to control her transformation, with the panda manifesting whenever she experiences strong emotions. Mei’s parents tell her the transformation can be removed by a ritual, but she must wait a few weeks for the moon to align.

In the meantime, Mei discovers she can regulate the transformation by thinking about her friends. When she and her friends need money to attend a boy band concert, she takes up an offer to appear as the panda at a rich kids birthday, which only causes friction with her strict mother (Sandra Oh). The metaphor for balancing self-discovery and duty to family is pretty straightforward.

Turning Red plays a bit like a spiritual successor to Pixar’s Oscar-winning 2008 short film Bao, another quirky look at a Chinese-Canadian family that told the story of a woman who imagines a dumpling coming to life as a stand-in for her child that moved out. Bao writer-director Domee Shi also directed and co-wrote Turning Red.

The film’s subject matter and an array of eccentric characters lend themselves to a number of imaginative and colorful sequences that provide plenty of fodder for Pixar to maintain its reputation for visual splendor, and Turning Red is one of the most distinctive efforts from the venerated animation house.

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The Blu-ray Disc edition includes a number of fun extras that offer plenty of behind-the-scenes information.

First up is an audio commentary with Shi, producer Lindsey Collins and director of photography Mahyar Abousaeedi that covers most of the bases, from the character designs to the film’s musical flavors.

The 14-and-a-half-minute “Life of a Shot” delves into the creative process by focusing on seven shots from the film, from conception to completion.

The nine-minute “Build Your Own Boy Band” featurette looks at how filmmakers pieced together the boy band that helps drive the story, from style to sound to choreography — a process that begins with listening to a lot of boy band music.

A Blu-ray bonus disc includes 23 minutes of deleted sequences, some of which are fully animated, and a 10-minute “Ani-Mei-Tion” featurette about the film’s visual style and anime influences.

The 4K disc contains just the movie and no bonus materials. All the extras in the 4K combo pack are on the two Blu-ray Discs, which are the same discs as the regular Blu-ray combo pack.

Disney+’s ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Top New Show, Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ Top Returning Show Anticipated in May

Disney+’s “Obi-Wan Kenobi” was the top anticipated new show, Netflix’s “Stranger Things” was the most anticipated returning show, and Disney’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was the top anticipated movie on the Whip Media charts for May.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi” starts streaming on Disney+ May 27. The series stars Ewan McGregor, reprising his role as the iconic Jedi Master, and begins 10 years after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat — the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. The series also marks the return of Hayden Christensen in the role of Darth Vader.

The fourth season of “Stranger Things” starts streaming on Netflix May 27. In season four, it’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, the group of friends are separated for the first time. Meanwhile, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness debuts in theaters May 6. Based on the Marvel Comics, the film follows the further adventures of Dr. Stephen Strange as he protects a girl who can hop between realities.

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TV Time, a Whip Media company, is a free TV and movie viewership tracking app with 21 million global users, according to the company. TV Time’s “Anticipation Report” is based on data from those users.

Most Anticipated New Shows for May:

  1. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” (Disney+) — May 27
  2. “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+) — May 5
  3. “The Staircase” (2022) (HBO Max) — May 5
  4. “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (HBO) — May 15
  5. “Candy” (Hulu) — May 9

 

Most Anticipated Returning Shows for May:

  1. “Stranger Things” (Netflix) — May 27
  2. “The Wilds” (Prime Video) — May 6
  3. “Hacks” (2021) (HBO Max) — May 12
  4. “Love, Death & Robots” (Netflix) — May 20
  5. “Girls5eva” (Peacock) — May 5

 

Most Anticipated Movies for May:

  1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — May 6
  2. Top Gun: Maverick — May 27
  3. Downton Abbey: A New Era — May 18
  4. Bob’s Burgers: The Movie — May 27
  5. Firestarter — May 13
  6. Senior Year — May 13
  7. Men — May 20
  8. Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers — May 20
  9. Along for the Ride — May 6
  10. DC Showcase — Contantine: The House of Mystery — May 3

 

April 26 Sees ‘Moonfall’ New to Disc, ‘Uncharted’ and ‘Turning Red’ Arrive for Digital Purchase

Titles new to DVD and Blu-ray April 26 include Moonfall and The Great: Season Two, while new digital releases include Uncharted and Turning Red.

Action-adventure director Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall arrives on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and VOD April 26 from Lionsgate. Emmerich (Midway, “Independence Day” franchise) and writers Emmerich, Harald Kloser and Spenser Cohen, the film stars Halle Berry (Monsters Ball, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), Patrick Wilson (Midway, “The Conjuring” franchise), John Bradley (TV’s “Game of Thrones,” Marry Me), Michael Peña (TV’s “Narcos,” Fantasy Island),  Charlie Plummer (Lean on Pete, Spontaneous), Kelly Yu (TV’s “Lost Promise”), Eme Ikwuakor (TV’s “On My Block,” “Inhumans”), Carolina Bartczak (TV’s upcoming “Painkiller”), and Donald Sutherland (“The Hunger Games” franchise, TV’s “The Undoing”). In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving the world, but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Wilson), and conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (Bradley) believe her. They mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space. Read a review here.

Season two of the comedic series “The Great” arrives on DVD April 26 from Paramount Home Entertainment.  Created and executive produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Tony McNamara (The Favourite​), the satirical comedy is loosely based on the rise of Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) from outsider to the longest reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. With Fanning and Nicholas Hoult reprising their Golden Globe-nominated roles, season two finds Catherine finally taking the Russian throne for her own. But if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of liberating a country that doesn’t want to be.  She must battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by two-time Emmy Award-winning actress Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. The four-disc DVD set features all 10 episodes from season two, plus deleted scenes and a blooper reel.

The action adventure Uncharted arrives for digital purchase April 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. In the film, street-smart thief Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is recruited by seasoned treasure hunter Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg) to recover a fortune lost by Ferdinand Magellan 500 years ago. What starts as a heist job for the duo becomes a globe-trotting race to reach the prize before the ruthless Moncada (Antonio Banderas), who believes he and his family are the rightful heirs. Uncharted arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 10.

Disney and Pixar’s animated Turning Red will be available for digital purchase April 26. In the film, confident, dorky 13-year-old Mei (voice of Rosalie Chiang) must balance being a dutiful daughter with the chaos of adolescence. Her slightly overbearing mom (voice of Sandra Oh) is never far from her daughter. And, as if changes to Mei’s interests, relationships and body aren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited, she “poofs” into a giant red panda. It arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD May 3 from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release the classic 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time April 26 to mark the film’s 70th anniversary. The musical romantic comedy was directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and stars Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchel and Cyd Charisse. The film was written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden and produced by Arthur Freed. The music is by Nacio Herb Brown and the lyrics are by Arthur Freed. The 4K edition of Singin’ in the Rain will also be available for digital purchase starting April 26.

The Indian feature Writing With Fire, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, will be available on DVD April 26 from Music Box Films. In the film, reporting from a social environment built to divide based on caste and gender, a fearless group of journalists maintain India’s only women-led news outlet. The women of Khabar Lahariya (“Waves of News”), all from the Dalit (“untouchables”) caste, prepare to transition the newspaper from print to digital even though many of their reporters don’t have access to electricity at home. Armed with smartphones, chief reporter Meera and her team of investigative journalists confront some of India’s biggest issues — exposing the relentless discrimination against women and amplifying the voices of those who suffer from the oppressive caste system. The film chronicles the astonishing determination of these local reporters as they empower each other and hold those responsible for injustice to account.

Vertical Entertainment’s Alica Silverstone thriller Last Survivors will be released on DVD April 26 from Distribution Solutions. In the science-fiction thriller, a father and son, who have been living off grid for 20 years, encounter an outsider who threatens to destroy the utopia they’ve built. Directed by Drew Mylrea and written by Josh Janowicz, the film also stars Drew Van Acker and Stephen Moyer.

The erotic features Caligula & Messalina and Caligula: The Untold Story, as well as the Australian biker actioner Stone, will be available on Blu-ray Disc April 26 from MVD Entertainment Group and Severin Films.

In Caligula & Messalina (1981), one of the earliest entries in the subgenre, ItaloFilth veteran Bruno Mattei (The Other Hell, Women’s Prison Massacre) set the Caligsploitation standard for informative history and jaw-dropping depictions of ancient Roman depravity. When the deranged emperor (Vladimir Brajovic of The Story of O) falls for an insatiable gladiatrix (Betty Roland of Mattei’s Caligula Reincarnated as Nero), their reign will launch a mind-bending bacchanal of torture, sodomy, incest, castration, borrowed footage and aroused livestock. Françoise Blanchard (The Living Dead Girl), Florence Guérin (Cozzi’s The Black Cat) and Sal Boris (The Beast in Heat) co-star in this saga of saturnalian obscenity, presented in both the explicit Italian version and the unrated U.S. Release scanned in 2K from the original negatives. Special Features include “Caligula: The Life Behind the Legend,” an interview with Anthony A. Barrett, author of Caligula: The Corruption Of Power; a trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

Also due is Caligula: The Untold Story (1982). Directed by Joe D’Amato (Emanuelle in America, Absurd), the erotic exploitation film stars David Brandon (Beyond Darkness, Stagefright) as the insane young emperor whose love of brutality and degradation is surpassed only by his hunger for enslaved virgins, cruel vengeance, extreme acts of “horseplay” and beyond. Laura Gemser (Black Emanuelle), Gabriele Tinti (Endgame), Charles Borromel (Absurd) and future director Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man) star in this epic of orgiastic excess written by D’Amato and Luigi Montefiori/George Eastman with a score by Carlo Maria Cordio, presented in both the explicit Italian version and the U.S. release scanned in 2K from the original negatives. Special features include “The Orgy Of Power,” an interview with actor David Brandon; “A False True Story,” an interview with screenwriter Luigi Montefiori; “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy,” an interview with actor Mark Shannon; deleted scenes; the U.K. video trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

Stone (1974), released five years before Mad Max, comes from producer/director/co-writer/star Sandy Harbutt. In his first and only feature film, he ignited Australia’s exploitation explosion, launching a global censorship battle with this biker movie. In the film, an undercover cop (Ken Shorter of Sunday Too Far Away) infiltrates an outlaw motorcycle gang (led by Harbutt). Hugh Keays-Byrne (Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road), Helen Morse (Picnic at Hanging Rock), Roger Ward, Vincent Gil, Reg Evans of Mad Max fame, and members of the Sydney Hells Angels co-star in the film, which features an uncut 4K scan from original vault elements supervised by Harbutt himself shortly before his death. Special features include “The Making of Stone“; deleted and extended scenes; “Stone Forever”; “Not Quite Hollywood,” extended interviews: make-up tests; a slideshow with commentary by Harbutt; the trailer; and the CD soundtrack.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

A Home Entertainment Success Story: Bob Chapek and the Digital Revolution

As CEO of The Walt Disney Co., Bob Chapek is the home entertainment industry’s single biggest success story.

He joined Disney in 1993, after stints in brand management at H.J. Heinz Co. and in advertising at J Walter Thompson, and spent his first 18 years in home entertainment, running the division as president from 2006 to 2011. And with streaming now the dominant delivery mechanism in home entertainment, it’s fitting that one of Disney’s biggest corporate initiatives is Disney+, the subscription streaming platform launched in November 2019 that by the end of last year had amassed nearly 130 million subscribers worldwide, up 37% from the end of 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Media Play News, Chapek shares some thoughts on the past, present and future of home entertainment. 

MPN: At the time of launch, did you recognize DVD’s potential?

Chapek: I don’t think that anyone fully realized the trajectory that we would be on. I think if we knew, we probably all would have made other decisions quicker than we did. But I think it’s been a roadmap, right? We went from VHS and Laserdisc, to DVD, then to Blu-ray, then to having files accessible through iTunes and then, ultimately, streaming. So it’s been part of a big evolution. I don’t think anybody had the foresight to know exactly how that was going to play out. But we knew we were on a digital path, a digital future, and I think the consumer’s better off for it.

MPN: What were you doing when DVD first came on the market?
 
Chapek: At that point I was SVP of marketing for home video, running marketing, essentially. What I was actually doing was making sure those discs would actually play, because if you remember there some playability issues, as there are with all new formats, compatibility issues between players and discs, and making sure that anything we put in the marketplace was going to actually deliver on what the consumer expected. And then shortly thereafter, we started innovating, trying to take full advantage of all the capabilities that the new digital format had. More than just no need to rewind, right? Or you can start a movie anywhere you wanted to — there wasn’t that linearity, and we tried to take advantage of that in so many ways. I work with Pete Docter still to this day, and I remember innovating on Monsters Inc., with the two paths on the menus, one for kids, one for adults, and it was a completely different experience. So we did try to seize the opportunity to use technology to create a whole different type of experience and, you know, that’s the Disney way.

MPN: When Blu-ray came along, you played a primary role in bringing that high-definition format to market. I remember Warren Lieberfarb saying it’s vaporware, and you explained that it’s not evolutionary, it’s revolutionary.

Chapek: Well, first of all, I do give credit to Warren to be the father of DVD, he certainly was that, and got the entire industry off on its way. [But with Blu-ray] there was an unfortunate and expensive format war. We clearly aligned on the side of Blu-ray because it was the best for the consumer. I think there were a lot of competing interests with people doing things that might be best for their company but not necessarily with an eye toward what was right for the consumer, and we just believed that a transformative technology that could completely promise a new experience, without compromises, would be superior to something that was a bit more evolutionary, like HD DVD. So knowing that it would make our library brand new again, if we had a revolutionary technology rather than an evolutionary one, we stood, as you remember, staunchly behind Blu-ray, which eventually prevailed.

MPN: Along with Blu-ray Disc, the argument can be made that DVD also fathered streaming, both because it spurred the digitization of content and because its small size and light weight prompted Reed Hastings to launch a DVD-by-mail rental service. Would there be a Disney+ had it not been for DVD?

Chapek: I think it’s part of the natural evolution. It was a big leap from tape to disc, and then another big leap from physical to digital. And even in those early days of Blu-ray we started playing around with what we thought was going to be digital delivery. We were involved in a new technology we had developed called Keychest. I don’t know if you remember it, but it was the embryonic beginning of owning a digital library — which, again, to us was a pretty big deal at that time. I think back often to those Keychest days as being the founding moment of at least our own digital business. And we certainly played along with that evolution, and now with streaming, with Disney+, it’s really been interesting for me, over almost 30 years, to see this evolution. I have the deepest respect for Netflix. Again, they were pioneers in this business, coming all the way from shipping discs to your home all the way to where they’re at today. And I’m not sure how many players will be left standing, ultimately, in the streaming wars, as they call it, but I certainly think both Netflix and Disney+ will be among them.
 
MPN: Any thought on the future of physical media?

Chapek: I guess there’s always going to be a niche for physical media that some people will celebrate. I still hang on to a few of my classic titles and, in particular, I’m a big music audio on disc fan for some of the high-definition and lossless formats, so I’m one of those rare types that still loves the lossless, uncompressed formats. But I think each person will find out their own path when it comes to hanging on to different physical formats. I remember the days of Snow White, the one that started it all here at Disney, and working on The Lion King, which has sold over 45 million copies in North America alone, and there are some of those titles that will hold some library value if for no other reason than sentimental value. But I fully embrace the digital revolution that’s taken place and think everything I really need to watch is on Disney+.

Vizio Adds Disney, Sony, Warner On-Demand Movies, TV Shows

Vizio April 20 announced it has expanded its slate of free, on-demand entertainment available on WatchFree+ to include TV shows and movies from more than 17 studios.

The ad-supported free streaming service now offers Vizio TV owners more than 5,000 titles, including from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (Need for Speed); Sony Pictures (Death at a Funeral and Guess Who); and Warner Bros. (Gossip, Pay it Forward, Knockaround Guys and “Veronica Mars” (2014)).

“We are excited to broaden our content offering, which now also includes a selection of Warner Bros. titles … for our users to enjoy for free,” Katherine Pond, VP of Business Development at Vizio, said in a statement. “Following the addition of ad-supported on demand content last November, the team has expanded the entertainment options at an accelerated pace to provide consumers with access to a massive free library of content that they can enjoy as a part of owning a Vizio TV.”

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Programming is available across genres including action, romance, comedy, family entertainment, crime and more — giving Vizio users content to watch and enjoy anytime and providing access to new audiences for advertisers and agencies.